Assuming the role of the now-defunct Energy and Climate Change (ECC) watchdog, the newly-formed Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee will seek expert advice on which policy areas should be prioritised in negotiations on the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU).

BEIS Committee Chair Iain Wright MP said: “The UK’s vote to leave the European Union raises serious questions about the UK’s future energy and climate change policy, which the Government will need to consider carefully during exit negotiations.

“As a Committee, we want to examine the implications of the UK’s departure from the EU on the energy sector and on our ambitions to combat climate change.

“We are keen to hear from stakeholders about what they want from the UK’s exit negotiations and we will want to consider how best to maintain investor confidence and security of supply as we leave the EU. We also want to explore how, post-Brexit, the UK can build on its international standing in climate leadership and as a centre for low carbon innovation.”

Brexit concerns

Britain’s departure from the EU has raised concerns over the strength of the UK’s bargaining power in EU energy legislation. Participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the EU 2030 emissions target agreed by EU Member States at the Paris Agreement – which the UK officially ratified yesterday – are among key green policy issues that are now subject to negotiation.

With UK climate policy so entrenched in the context of EU climate actions, many in the green business community have called on the Government to preserve or strengthen existing EU policies and incorporate them into UK frameworks.

The Committee’s call for new evidence builds on written submissions received by the old ECC Committee in its previous two inquiries, which sought to understand the consequences of Brexit on the UK’s commitments to EU-led climate policies and legislation.

Key questions

The BEIS Committee will be exploring the questions raised by these inquiries in more detail, particularly on the following points: –

  • What should be the Government’s priorities on energy and climate change when negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU?
  • What would the impact be on the UK leaving the Internal Energy Market? How important is continued UK participation in the Internal Energy Market? What model should this participation take?
  • What should be the Government’s priorities on the EU Emissions Trading System? How viable are alternative options?
  • Which aspects of EU policy should be maintained? Should energy-relevant EU policy be grandfathered into UK law?  If so, how could it be updated and enforced?
  • How best can investor confidence be maintained in the face of considerable uncertainty surrounding the negotiations and, post-Brexit, the potential absence of EU policies and legislation? 
  • How would possible new restrictions on trade and movement of labour affect the security of energy supply and prices and the attraction of inward investment into energy infrastructure and facilities? 
  • How can the UK maximise future opportunities to cooperate with international partners to retain its standing as a hub for low carbon innovation?
  • How can the UK retain its influential voice in 1) international climate negotiations and 2) future changes to EU rules and regulations?
  • What are the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU on the both the UK’s and the EU’s COP21 pledges? What will be the UK’s future role within the United Nations climate change processes?

Stakeholders are able to submit written evidence that provides an update to their original evidence or more detail on any of the points listed above. Updates must be submitted online to the Committee by Friday 16 December, with evidence sessions set to begin in the new year.

George Ogleby

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